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How Professional Photography Can Serve Your Club

Editor’s Note: Today we welcome the highly regarded professional course photographer Dave Sansom to the Leadership Lounge blog, for this piece on how proper professional photography can serve your club. While he has provided examples of his work throughout, his complete portfolio is hosted at Take it away, Dave!


In an increasingly competitive golf market, do high quality, publishable images of your property really matter?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Dave Sansom Photography

Have you recently completed a renovation?

Are the images you’re using today more than 5 years old?

Are the photos in your current library just…not good?

These are all good reasons to consider having new photography done, but like any other element of your marketing communications program, balancing the costs and value of photography is important.

Today everybody carries a camera in their pocket, and most clubs have members who are avid photographers. So why does hiring a professional make any sense at all?

Consider this scenario: When your good friend Joe pulls out the prints from his latest vacation or photo adventure, he’ll accompany each image with a story. He’ll tell you what the temperature was as the waves crashed on the shore; he’ll wax poetic about the beautiful spring morning and how sweet the flowers smelled; he’ll recall what his wife was doing while he was out taking pictures, and on and on.

In other words, he’ll share the total experience with you, making it real and vivid—so much so that you may not notice the flaws in his photography skills. And that’s okay! For an “average Joe”, nice snaps and a great memory are enough.

A magazine publisher will notice those flaws, though. So will an awards committee looking for a recipient for this year’s “best renovation” award.

A professional’s image, unlike Joe’s, has to stand on its own. Technical and creative aspects of an image must stand up to the scrutiny of magazine publishers, print designers, marketing teams, and more. Each image must have the power to tell its story on its own, without any accompanying conversation. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

Dave Sansom Photography

An experienced pro… especially one who is regularly published… has an expert understanding of how to portray your golf course in its very best light. A good professional knows how to provide images with a “Wow” factor.

A good golf course photograph is more than a picture of a golf hole. It quickens the blood of any golfer, piquing their interest and making them say “Wow! I want to be there.” Even non-golfers can appreciate the sweeping majesty of a velvety green, a spectacular sunset over the 9th hole, or the crashing blue and gray ocean just yards away from the emerald green of the fairway. Golf courses are designed to be beautiful, aren’t they?

Dave Sansom Photography

So let’s assume you agree with me that hiring a professional photographer makes good sense for your club. What, exactly, can you do with the photos? Not surprisingly, I have a few suggestions!


1. Upgrade the look of your web site

Very often in this technological age, the web site is a prospective member’s first exposure to your club and golf course. Tired, dated photos will only serve to make your club look worn out or old. Conversely, great photographs can have a major, positive impact on your club’s image, and on visitors to your web site.

2. Document renovations and other changes to your course and clubhouse

At some point in the future, you will probably publish a book to celebrate a club milestone. And when you do, it may be difficult to pull together good quality images that represent the club’s history…unless, of course, you’ve built and maintained a great archive of good quality images.

3. Use in your club’s newsletter and in social media

Words are important, but images add punch and excitement to those words. If you don’t grab your readers’ attention immediately, they’ll move on to the next tweet or Instagram in a heartbeat.

4. Submit to magazines for awards or in conjunction with articles

This may be the most important reason to use a pro. Golf and sports magazine editors, publishers, and designers are working with great images every day, and they give prime placement… including covers… to the best ones they receive. It’s the same with the groups who hand out “Best New Design” awards or “Most Improved Golf Course”. If you’ve had a recent renovation, and feel it may be worthy of an award, a great photograph can be the difference between a First Place and an Honorable Mention.

5. Publish a club calendar

Your members love their club! And they’ll be thrilled to receive a gift from club management featuring photos of their wonderful golf course. They’d also be glad to purchase a calendar, if that makes more sense to you. Avid golfers will eagerly hang a stunning calendar in their office to show colleagues where they spend their weekends. Producing a club calendar doesn’t cost that much, but can offer big returns.

6. Sell framed prints (and pay for the photo shoot!)

Many of the clubs I work with sell my photos in their pro shops. Some sell thousands of dollars a year in prints. Great photographs sell.

Dave Sansom Photography

7. Decorate your clubhouse with large prints of your favorite images

What says, “We are proud of our wonderful golf course!” better than strategically placed, beautifully framed photographs of your club’s centerpiece?

8. Use framed prints or other image-based merchandise as tee gifts for tournaments

Another profit center, and one that’s very well received. It’s also very simple, logistically, since your ECCO rep doesn’t have to show up for shoe fittings! Plus, every participant in an event at your club will hang his new print in his office or at home, serving to generate conversations about your club for years to come.

9. Provide tournament & special event organizers with marketing images

Tournament organizers promoting events at your club will really appreciate great images to help promote their events. The more high quality images you have to offer them, the more likely they’ll be to use them, and in more places.

10. Multiplicity

Smartphone snaps might work for you on Twitter and Instagram, maybe in a newsletter here or there, but that’s about it. A professional high quality print (Image) on the other hand can work for you on all those platforms, plus everywhere else I’ve just mentioned above. It’s an investment that can work for itself tenfold.

So, back to the question we began with: In an increasingly competitive golf market, do high quality, publishable images of your property really matter?

I can’t answer that question for you, but in my experience, the answer has always been a resounding “YES!”.

Dave Sansom Photography

If you decide that professional help is in order… and I’m not talking psychiatry here… I hope you’ll allow me to toss my Nikon into the ring. And please allow me to offer a helpful hint… always be sure that the portfolio images a photographer shows you are recent. Anything older than a couple of years may not truly reflect a shooter’s current style or quality of work.

So whether you hire me or one of my competitors, I’m certain you’ll be glad you did.


The RCS Hospitality Group, creators of RCS Food & Beverage Boot Camp™, specialize in operations consulting, strategic planning, food and beverage management, and training programs for private clubs, fine dining restaurants, and high-end hotels and resorts around the world. For more information, phone (623) 322-0773; or visit the RCSHG website at

#photography #socialmedia #gifts #brandimage #branding #technology #clubmanagement #operations #renovation

Whitney Reid Pennell
 Founder & President

Whitney Reid Pennell is the founder and president of the award-winning RCS Hospitality Group (formerly Reid Consulting Services). She is a published author and widely praised seminar leader, with over 20 years of club operations management and consulting experience. 

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